Family Stories

Major Frederick Gustave Bracht – From Prussia to Grant County, Kentucky

After an illness of three weeks, I am anxious to share more family records with you.  Today we visit Grant County, in the northern part of the state, just south of Kenton, Boone and Gallatin counties, on the border with Ohio and Indiana.  Ritchey and I visited Grant County August 8, 2015, and took photographs in three cemeteries.  Our visit will be to Williamstown Cemetery, located in the town of the same name, just off I75 and close to the border of Pendleton County on the eastern side of Grant County.

Frederick Gustave Bracht and Elizabeth Thomas Bracht, Williamstown Cemetery, Williamstown, Grant County, Kentucky.

Within this cemetery are buried Frederick Gustave Bracht, born in Prussia December 20, 1810, to Johann Balthasar Bracht and Anne Katharine Streckers.  In the Baden and Hesse Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1502-1985, are the following records:

Baptismal record for ‘Friedrich Bracht, male, born December 20, 1810, baptized December 22, 1810, at Rappenau, Prussia, Baden.  Father was Johann Balthasar Bracht and mother, Katharine Bracht.  He was baptized at the parish of Michelfeld, page 26,27.” 

Marriage record “Johann Balthasar Bracht, male, age 26, birth about 1782, married February 21, 1808, at Rappenau, Baden (Bauden-Wurttemberg), Prussia, parent Gottfried Brachts, to Anne Katharine Streckers, at the parish of Michelfeld, page 1.”  Anne Katharine Streckers father was Jacob Streckers.

Baptismal record “Johann Balzar Bracht, male, born November 6, 1783, baptized November 7, 1783, at Michelfeld, Prussia, Baden, father, Gottfried Bracht, mother, Maria Elisabeth Bracht, the parish of Michelfeld, page number 268, 269.”

Burial record “Balthasar Bracht, age 52, birth date 1784, death date September 20, 1836, burial date September 22, 1836, Michelfeld, Baden Prussia, parish of Michelfeld, page 56, 57.”

According to a memory of Frederick’s son, Watson, Frederick was the fifth son of a German baron and came to the United States since the oldest son inherited everything – known as primogeniture.  This left the younger sons penniless and meant they had to fend for themselves.  I’m not sure how much truth was in this family story.  The above records of birth, baptism and marriage did not note any titles such as Baron when entered.

There is a passenger list from the ship Clementine, a Bremen ship who left January 5, 1835, for Baltimore, Maryland.  There are four passengers listed as cabin, and one of these is Frederick Brauch, who lived at Lipzig, and was a merchant.  The remaining 127 passengers are listed as steerage.  Occupations are given, but some are simply listed as peasants.  Two of them are listed as gentlemen.  Perhaps that does give Frederick a step up in rank.

Frederick Gustave Bracht met and married Bertha Dammhausen, probably in Ohio, about 1835.  There is a Bremen passenger list from March 4, 1833, a ship called Isabella, with Captain Jurgen Meyer, which sailed from Bremen to New York.  Three sisters, Louise, Wilhelmine and Bertha Dammhausen are among the twelve passengers.  Bertha Dammhausen was listed as a cabin passenger.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cleveland, there is a marriage between Adolph Von Wangelen and Bertha Dunnhausen (note the two n’s instead of m’s) on August 30, 1835, bond being made on August 14th.  Did Bertha marry Adolph first, and after an early death, married Frederick Gustave Bracht?  I could find no marriage for Frederick and Bertha, but they are living in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1850 according to the census records.  Frederick is listed as Charles Bracht, 38, clerk, born in Germany.  Did the census taker mistake his name?  Son Brutus is listed next, 12, born in Ohio.  Next is son Charles, 10; son Custos (I’m sure they mean Gustave), 8; son Alphonse, 3.  Next in line is George Miller, 25, a druggist, born in Germany, and his wife, Mary, also born in Germany.  Next is Frederick’s wife, Bertha Bracht, 32, born Germany.  And, finally, John Hill, 23, a clerk, born Massachusetts.  It’s almost as if someone else gave the information.  But we do have Frederick, Bertha and their four sons.

By 1860 Frederick has moved his family to Grant County, Kentucky, and married Elizabeth Thomas in the county May 7, 1851.  Frederick and Elizabeth have his first four sons by his first marriage and four children of their own.

  • Frederick Gustave, 50 Prussia
  • Elizabeth, 32, Kentucky
  • Junius Brutus, 22, Ohio
  • Charles E., 19, Ohio
  • Frederick Gustave, 14, Ohio
  • John Alford, 12, Ohio
  • Bertha, 7, Kentucky
  • Lenora, 5, Kentucky
  • Watson Thomas, 3, Kentucky
  • Mary L., 2/12, Kentucky

Frederick Gustave Bracht enlisted with the Union Army in the winter of 1861-62.  The 18th Regiment of Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the United States service on the 8th day of February 1862.  Frederick entered as Major. 

In the writing of Watson Thomas Bracht it says his father had been a sharpshooter in the war and had lost a finger during battle.  There was also mention that the family farm in Grant County was raided by both Union and Confederate soldiers.

The Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

Thursday, July 31, 1862

A Large Rebel Force Put To Rout At Mt. Sterling, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky, July 30

Yesterday afternoon a party of 344 guerrilla rebels, from Boone County, under command of General Bullett, appeared before Mt. Sterling, and demanded the surrender of the town, which was refused.  They then attempted to take it by force, but were fired on by the Home Guard, and a number killed.  They then turned to retrace their steps down the pike, and were met by a party of men under Major Bracht, of the Eighteenth Kentucky, who ordered a charge, which turned them towards the town, where they were again warmly received, which caused a complete stampede, leaving all their horses, etc.  The rebels lost 13 killed, 48 prisoners, and a number wounded.  Our loss was 3 wounded.  Major Bracht is closely following the balance.  The Paris Home Guards last night captured eight of the flying rebels near this place.  Ten were also captured at North Middletown.

Louisville, July 30

Further particulars of the Mount Sterling affair are received.  Yesterday at sunrise, 175 mounted guerrillas, mostly armed and principally from Boone County, Kentucky, arrived at North Middleton.  A Union man was sent from there and notified the inhabitants of Mount Sterling of the design of the guerrillas to attack the latter place.  In the afternoon seven of these guerrillas went into Mount Sterling to demand surrender.  The Mount Sterling Home Guard, 30 strong, under Capt. Evans, Provost Marshal, killed the whole seven.  The remainder of the rebels coming up were fired at from houses on the road and six more killed and some 20 mortally wounded.  The rebels retreating some miles came upon Major Bracht, of the 18th Kentucky, and Provost Marshal of Lexington, advancing with 100 of his regiment, and 30 Home Guards from the neighborhood of North Middleton, when they broke in confusion, scattering in every direction, Bracht pursuing and firing upon them, killing and wounding several, capturing their horses, arms, etc., and taking some fifty prisoners.  Twenty to fifty more were subsequently reported captured. 

Our loss was three Home Guards, one of them fatally, and one of Bracht’s regiment severely.

This same article was published in several German newspapers around the country, including St. Louis, Missouri, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. 

During the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, in September 1862, the following from The Courier-Journal, September 22, 1862, ‘Before closing the report of this disastrous fight, it is just to say that there were many instances of great personal valor exhibited by individual officers and men, which came under my observation.  Col. Warner, Lieut. Col. Landrum and Major Bracht, of the 18th Kentucky, exhibited proper courage and daring.  The former, I regret to say, is reported dangerously wounded and the latter two had their horses shot under them.’

Son Junius Brutus Bracht was a 1st Lieutenant, and then 2nd Lieutenant of the 18th Kentucky Infantry, serving under his father.

Several officers of the 18th Kentucky resigned January 26, 1863, including Major F. G. Bracht.

By 1870 three children had been added to the family – Lilly, born 1862; Emile, born 1864; and Clara, born 1866. 

A list of the children of Frederick Gustave Bracht and Bertha Dammhousen:

  1. Junius Brutus Bracht, May 6, 1838 – April 16, 1919, married Susan T. Skirvin.  Married second, Louisa M.  Junius was a farmer.
  2. Charles E. Bracht, August 1, 1841 – September 19, 1879, a trader.
  3. Frederick Gustave Bracht, November 6, 1844 – March 14, 1922, married Katherine Melissa New, March 16, 1875.  Frederick was a farmer.
  4. John Alford Bracht, January 10, 1848 – February 14, 1932, married Minnie Holton about 1875.  John was a farmer.

A list of the children of Frederick Gustave Bracht and Elizabeth Thomas:

  1. Bertha Bracht, 1852-1872
  2. Maria Lenora Bracht, 1856-1915
  3. Watson Thomas Bracht, January 1857 – October 6, 1913, married Laura Elizabeth Davis.  Watson moved to Oklahoma, then Portland, Oregon.
  4. Mary L. Bracht, April 28, 1860 – November 14, 1911, married Overton P. Elliston.
  5. Lily B. Bracht, 1862 – 1932.
  6. Emil Bracht, March 6, 1864 – July 11, 1922, married Cordelia Shelton.
  7. Clara Bracht, Jun 1868 – April 9, 1955, married Wiley R. Brasfield, II.
Bertha Bracht, 1852-1872.

Bertha Bracht died in 1872 at the young age of 20.

Gustave Bracht, 1810-1878.

Major Frederick Gustave Bracht died in 1878, the exact date is unknown.  He was 67-68, not an old man.  Perhaps his time during the Civil War was hard on him.  Surprisingly I could find no obituary or information.

Elizabeth Bracht, 1828-1879.

Elizabeth Thomas Bracht died the next year, again, no precise date is given. 

Charles E. Bracht, born Aubust 1, 1840, died September 19, 1879.

Charles Bracht is the only member of the family to have a gravestone placed at the time of his death. The stones for his father, mother and sister are newer, placed years after their deaths.

In the 1880 census Lenora is listed as head of household, aged 25.  Siblings Watson, 23, Mary, 20, Lillie, 18, Emil, 16 and Clara, 13. 

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